TURNING a run down old farmhouse into a beautiful home and business is the ideal for many people keen to move to France.
Gill Horne and her husband Bill did just that, but it took commitment, hard work and much ploughing through paperwork to create their piece of paradise.
“An old man lived here but nothing had been done to the house, the outbuildings or the large barn,” Gill explained.
“When he died it still took a couple of years for things to go through but we had set our heart on the place and finally we were able to move in and start working on it.”
Ferouailles can be found up a narrow track through a small copse and as you park you are met with a view of autumnal colours across the valley.
Situated in the Lot and Garonne region, just over the Dordogne border, Gill’s home is alongside one of her holiday homes, with another just behind.
“We worked on the house first and found local builders to do the major work, but we handled most of the design and submission of paperwork ourselves,” Gill said.
“But we never really planned on letting the homes, one of the first things we built was a pool for ourselves.
“However, as the work progressed and our plans grew we knew we would need some funds to carry on the work, so began letting.”
Even the experience of an aborted mission to France 25 years ago did not put them off.
“We came out with our two children, thinking we would be able to work here. Bill is a photographer so he set himself up as a freelancer, but it was hard,” Gill said.
“We kept a foothold in the area as our daughter Tracy stayed when we went back to the UK and it was thanks to her we found the house.”
Tracy now has her own family in the area and works for the estate agents in Villefranche du Perigord, using her language skills to help people buy in the region.
“I say to people that before they buy anywhere they should come over and spend some time here renting for a couple of months,” Tracy explained.
“It is a lovely area but you can’t get a feel for a place within a few hours of getting off a plane in Bergerac and then spending a weekend looking at houses.”
And despite creating three beautiful homes, each with their own mystique and atmosphere, the work is not done, as holiday-lets do not run themselves.
“It can be very tiring during the changeover period between guests as I want the houses to be in perfect condition,” explained Gill.
“And it can be a bit difficult living next door to the houses as you may have work to do and guests love to cook for you, or offer you a glass of wine which you can’t refuse!”
If you found this useful...
+ Stay up-to-date: Get your free This French Life newsletter
Gill and Bill Horne are old family friends and I would like to make contact with them. I did have an e-mail address for Gill but I have lost it - is it possible to contact her and ask her to contact me please?
+44 7747 007639
Posted by: Paul Mehra | 15 April 2007 at 21:02
The Ferouailles website has moved to this URL:
Posted by: Jody Louie | 10 April 2008 at 11:05